After the resignation of Gabriel Sakakeeny as musical director (effective July 1, 2012) it became clear that American Philharmonic would need to develop a new form of organization with expanded self-governance. An Orchestra Leadership Team was formed consisting of Maestro Sakakeeny and approximately 20 leaders from every section of the orchestra. From this foundation a second team was formed, the Musical Director Search Team. In April of this year, that team was charged by the Board of Directors with a two-fold task: 1) develop a process for choosing a new musical director, and 2) execute the process.
With the Board's cooperation it was decided to make a national search for a candidate to replace Gabriel Sakakeeny as Musical Director of American Philharmonic Sonoma County. The initial work involved defining the position and creating a job description. In addition to preparing scores, rehearsing and conducting concerts, the musical director must be able to program the concert season, interact with composers and soloists, manage personnel-both musical and administrative, act as our leading spokesperson, meet with funders and venues, and participate in the work of the Board of Directors.
The musical director position was announced via job postings at major colleges and universities in the area, as well as the League of American Orchestras and other orchestral websites. We initially received eleven applications consisting of a cover letter, a biography, a list of works conducted, sample programs and references. After some clarifications, there were eight candidates who decided to continue on through the interview process. The team interviewed the candidates over the weekend of June 25-26. Four interview groups were formed: leadership qualities/conductor skills; artistic vision/orchestra development; management skills/stakeholder relations; and, operations/staff coordination. The interviews took place over a period of seven hours, as the candidates went from group to group. Both large and small meetings were included, as well as lunches together. At the end of the two days the team met and narrowed the candidates down to five. After all candidates were notified of the outcome, the chosen five finalists agreed to take part in the next phase of the selection process: Each candidate now becomes responsible for rehearsing and conducting a program during the next season. The programs have been chosen and assigned to the candidates by Mr. Sakakeeny.
Who are the candidates? You will find their biographies on this site, but here is a brief introduction:
Tristan Arnold is based in San Francisco, where he is Director of Music Programs at Lincoln High School and a masters candidate in conducting at San Francisco Conservatory. As a bassist he plays jazz, rock and folk music in addition to classical music. Tristan has been principal bassist of American Philharmonic since 2007.
Barnaby Palmer conducts the San Francisco Lyric Opera and has built up a sizeable repertoire of symphonic works as a guest conductor around the Bay Area and beyond. He is also a fine clarinetist.
Evan Craves joined our orchestra in its second year, and was our concert master from 2001-2010. He has appeared with American Phil as a soloist, most notably Shostakovich Violin Concerto, and as guest conductor of two program sets.
John Kendall Bailey is an experienced conductor, especially of works that include voice. He is also a baritone and an oboist. John has become well known to our community as the guest conductor of four concert sets including the monumental Moby Dick concert, which closed our 2010-11 season.
Norman Gamboa, a native of Costa Rica, has been an active conductor since 2000, holding positions such as music director of Powder River Symphony, and Director of Orchestral Studies at Washburn University in Kansas. His numerous and highly acclaimed guest engagements have taken Mr.Gamboa from the mid-western United States to Eastern Europe and South America.
Our intention is to be as inclusive as possible in evaluating the candidates from this point on. Both the orchestra and audience will be asked to give feedback in the form of questionnaires to assist the Musical Director Search Team and, ultimately, the Board of Directors, in making the final choice. We ask our members, subscribers and general audience to please join us in this important decision. Nothing is more vital to our survival and the long-term success of our organization than securing the right leadership going forward. As you enjoy next season's concerts, please take every opportunity to let us know what you think about our American Philharmonic Musical Director candidates.
Send comments to: Steven Peterson - Orchestra Leadership Team Chairman